India are currently playing the Border-Gavaskar trophy Down Under and for the first time in the history, they are on the verge of a series victory on the Aussie soil. One man who has played a pivotal role in setting up the victories is Cheteshwar Pujara.
His cricketing exploits have led him to garner immense respect from the cricketing world over the last month. However, being Cheteshwar Pujara is not easy. Let us look at five aspects from his cricket journey and batsmanship which can be considered as life lessons.
#1 Immense mental resolve
Pujara is not a swashbuckling player who will pull the crowd to the stadiums but he is a classical Test match player who grinds the opposition and protects the batsmen around him.
Pujara has been coached by his father since the age of 8 and his father takes pride in his son being a premier Test batsman. He has three first-class centuries to his name. Also, from an early age, he had a knack of playing long marathon innings. He may not be the fittest player in the team but perhaps has the best cricket body which assists him to bat for long hours. He also owns a safe pair of hands in terms of catching.
Pujara is definitely a quiet Test match player who means business. Irrespective of what happens around him, he remains focused on his job. Even sledging can do no harm to his willpower to bat for long hours.
Pujara generally bats along with the great Kohli who weaves his bat like a magic wand. Also, the other batsmen in the Indian middle order are strokemakers. However, Pujara seems to be unfazed by this fact and bats according to his natural style which he himself refers to as a meditation for him.
#2 Patience in the odd times
It was the year 2015 new years Test, Sydney Cricket Ground. Virat Kohli just took over the captaincy from Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped from the playing eleven owing to his slow scoring rate. Even in the first Test against England at Edgbaston in 2018, he was not a part of the playing owing for the same reason.
Since then life has seen a full turn around for Pujara and it is the same SCG four years later, where he might have been the first name on the team sheet. All the pondering over the low strike rates have stopped now and the team management has realized the true importance of this man. Fortunately, the three centuries this tour has helped Pujara to emerge from shadows of Kohli, just like it did for Dravid in 2002 when he scored three tons in England.
#3 Strong self-belief
Pujara has an innate ability to bat like a saint on the cricket pitch. He knows his strength perfectly as he first tries to grind the bowlers without taking any risks. After a period of time when the bowlers have played all their tricks and he is well set, then Pujara normally increases his scoring rate with precise caution.
He understands his off stump probably better than most of the current players and frustrates the bowling side with his accurate judgment of line and length. Then the bowling team starts to commit mistakes and that's the time when he feasts on.
The advantage with Pujara excelling is that he not only scores runs but also slogs out hours on the field frustrating opposition bowlers. With him playing with solidarity the other batsmen can play around him and help to build good first innings score, which is so vital on an overseas tour.
#4 No envious feeling with anyone
Pujara is surrounded by masterful limited overs batsmen in the Indian side who can plunder the white ball. All his contemporaries are having lavish IPL contracts. He is also aware of the fact that a few underperformers in the Test squad shall earn crores in a 50-day period, at a time during which he plays county cricket in the UK to hone his batting skills.
He probably won't be a part of the 50-over World Cup too in England. In spite of all these things going against him, Pujara has never lamented about this. Pujara tried his luck in the IPL till 2014 but tasted no success as his game is built upon technical punches and drives not meant for the power game.
He puts a heavy price on his Test batting and is one of the rare custodians of the good old defensive batting technique. Ideally, the BCCI should take special care of Pujara financially as he holds a key to this batting line-up when touring abroad.
#5 The ultimate team man
Pujara has always been a modest person who is always ready to do anything for the team. Be it opening the innings on a tough pitch at Colombo and carrying the bat with a brilliant 145* or paving the way for KL Rahul to bat at no. 3 in the first Test of the English Summer in 2018, he has done everything with a smile.
Now being a senior member of the team, he can surely be of value to the youngsters like Pant, Vihari and Shaw on the intricacies of Test cricket.
However, Pujara surely deserves much more trust from the management which he has gained with this terrific performance since August 2018. His role becomes even crucial now, as at the age of 30 he can provide at least 4-5 years of exemplary Test match batsmanship at no.3 which India direly needs after the departure of Rahul Dravid.